Kenya proves it can no longer Host LGBTI Refugees due to Escalating Violence

From one year to the next – All roads have led back to the violent and dangerous Kakuma- that is for gays, lesbians, transgender refugees and asylum seekers. All roads lead to a system that has failed.

It is Xmas day. Two nights ago, while asleep for the first time in their new shelters at Kakuma in Kenya, LGBTI refugees were attacked and robbed. They were told to flee or they would be killed.  Some ran for the bushes with 2 still missing and approximately 47 others risked camping outside the Reception Center in the hope that they may finally receive some real protection and security. Two refugees were arrested while allegedly trying to obtain water in an non-permitted zone. At the time of writing this, and after several requests for urgent attention during holiday time, other than receiving food as orchestrated by Marc Cohen of African Human Rights Coalition (African HRC), we have yet to see any help or protection. The situation is dire and the refugees remain in grave danger.  We are now also hearing of more refugees within the camp who may have to escape their shelters under fear of pending attacks.

LGBTQI XMAS at KAKUMA – African Human Rights Coalition

Now the suspicion has been raised that the refugees were actually purposely sent into an area where authorities and officials knew that they would be attacked. Something is dramatically amiss when refugees, escaping from violence in their home countries, cannot experience safety on the very first night of their supposed protection in safe-shelter.  This does not bode well for those who knowingly sent them into this insidiously dangerous place, in close proximity to those likely to attack, especially as these attacks had happened before.

Gay refugee sleeps outside UNHCR reception Center on XMAS eve -African HRC

One is forced to ask the question – surely those who made the decision to send these refugees to Kakuma 3 Block 8 and 9, while charged with their safety,  must have known the risks? This clearly plays into the belief that they were purposely placed in a zone that was so unsafe it was highly probable they would be attacked, dispersed, injured or even killed.

This confusion is now heightened by the fact that at African Human Rights Coalition we have now received reports stating that the Kenyan police at Kakuma ordered the LGBTI members who had been relocated by UNHCR into the Kakuma community to leave Kakuma “or else be arrested and jailed for up to 14 years.” Kenya is a proven hostile host to LGBTQI refugees.

Notably this has occurred mere months after the Kenyan High Court refused to decriminalize homosexuality, and so when LGBTI refugees arrive in Kenya from neighboring criminalizing countries they continue to be viewed as demonic, depraved and criminal.

As one LGBTI refugee witness reported to us at African HRC:

“This followed after the LGBTI members in Kakuma community ran to the police to seek help and safety after 2 days of violent attacks and robberies on them by the hostile local Turkana people and other settlers especially the straight Sudanese.

Apparently the police were not aware of the existence of LGBTI people in Kakuma and as rerouted to us in fact they were shocked to know that these people were in the community. Upon this fact, the police took statements from several LGBTI victims and after the same police ordered the LGBTI members to vacate and leave kakuma and go back where they came from. They said ‘Kenya is not a home for “SHOGAS” (Shoga is a slang term similar to faggot- in the local Swahili dialect used to demean and disrespect LGBTI people)

Right now, the LGBTI members who are victims of last night’s attacks have embarked on a trek to the UNHCR fieldpost in Kakuma to seek refuge again in the hope for a safe place. It is official that Kenya does NOT want us (LGBTI) and we are not safe here.”

Another refugee noted:

“Why did the UNHCR force us out of the camp reception centre in the first place yet they promised to keep us safe from within there and even beefed up security, only to evict us into the hostile community again. Why???”

The attitude toward LGBTI refugees in Kenya extends beyond the ‘disregard for migrants’ as expressed by the Pope in his Christmas address today. As widely reported by NPR  and the New York Times, the Pope noted that there are that there are ‘walls of indifference to migrants seeking refuge’.

The milieu for LGBTI refugees in Africa is fraught with open and flagrant hostility and dangers that mirror that which they so desperately sought to escape. What has occurred in Kakuma paints an ominous picture and one that screams for totally different solutions. If criminalization leads to stigma, ostracization and violence, how can one seek protection in a host country that exudes and exacerbates just that? Criminalization -stigma- ostracization – violence!

I am starting to think that the Pope’s point about indifference is reflecting also on those of us within the ranks of working for refugee protection and resettlement. It is abundantly clear to me, given the trajectory of these preceding years and especially this past year, that a completely new strategy must be sought and implemented for LGBTQI refugees and we in this field have a duty to come up with this plan and to move fast before more people are permanently injured and more lives are lost. 

African Human Rights Coalition

Let us take a hard look and ask ourselves the question:  What have we accomplished since this exact time last year when I reported in my Article, LGBT Refugee Peaceful Protest Turns Violent at UNHCR Compound in Kenya, to change this unacceptable and heart-wrenching trajectory for LGBTI refugees from neighboring countries in Kenya.

It has been years of reporting these attacks and the impossibilities for protecting gays, lesbians and trans people in hostile host countries. It has been years of tussling between Nairobi and Kakuma and imploring upon the Kenyan Government for understanding.  It has been years of frustration, pain, injury, arrests and chaos.

No refugee is guaranteed resettlement, but they are supposed to be guaranteed protection and safety from the dangers that they sought safety.

XMAS for LGBTI People at Kakuma

I refuse to believe that while American based NGO’s yield millions of dollars in revenues, that we cannot come up with something innovative to partner with UNHCR that could feasibly change this – to protect the now 700 refugees in Kenya who are LGBTQI?

Should we bus everyone to Botswana where it is not illegal to be LGBTQI? Should we find ways to assert Lautenberg Amendment type remedies, similar to that which Jews were granted during the USSR era of persecution- so they could practice their religion without persecution? What can we do to help LGBTQI humans live freely according to their innate sexuality?

At the very least – UNHCR, charged with the protection of refugees, MUST find and build within Kakuma a well guarded and safe protected shelter where LGBTI refugees can reside unharmed while these solutions are sought.

Lest we forget that the Trump administration in the United Sates has added fuel to this incendiary by clogging the pipeline through ineptness and short staffing at RSC Africa (the State Department Agency charged with resettlement to the USA) and the dramatic reduction of refugee resettlement numbers from 136,000 to only 18,000 per year.

For as long as the Kenyan government demands that ALL refugees reside in camp, and refuse travel permits within the country, and for as long as gay, lesbian, bi and trans refugees are attacked by local host communities including Turkana in Kakuma, as well as the Sudanese/ Somali heterosexual refugee community, and for as long as they cannot return to home countries because they have run for their lives, LGBTQI asylum seekers are caught between a rock and a hard place.  They cannot move freely, they are subject to arrest when they try to seek safety or report violence, they cannot develop self-reliance programs like the refugees due to continued ostracization and exposure and so they are stuck facing sticks and humiliation.

This problem cannot be ignored. It must be solved. And soon!

KAKUMA

Where are those of who are charged with protecting refugees? Those with access to foundations and funding? Structures to bring in those grants? Those who receive salaries to do this work – sometimes nice big salaries to do the work?  Those charged with protection – governments, organizations and even LGBTQI communities of wealth and means in Diaspora? What have you done to change this bleak situation and the ongoing outcomes that yield only more violence rather than the security and protection any refugee is entitled to receive. Is the Pope right? Is there an indifference?

We are all now all called upon to reexamine the path for LGBTQI refugees and while we are doing it, we must create protective interim safe havens. Please step up! Its enough with those fabulous glossy reports that take hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce. Its enough with shuffling e-mails. Its enough with those online Petitions that go nowhere! It is time to ACT!

It has been a year almost to the day since this very BLOG reported the horrific attack against LGBTI refugees at Kakuma Camp’s UNHCR Compound in Kenya, during a peaceful protest and notably won the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Journalist Association award for excellence in blogging 2019 for that piece.  I continued to report on the trajectory and advocated for those refugees who were moved to Kitingela (near Nairobi) as a result, only to be sent back into unsafe environments, including many back to Kakuma.  In all this time nothing has changed except an escalation in the hostility and dangers and the exacerbated confusion which all this will undoubtedly cause.

Below are the articles I have written over the past year, since that December 2018 attack, illustrating a trajectory of this escalating violence and evidencing the zero solutions. Even if you simply read the titles, you will get the picture***

AND SO WHAT NEXT?- 

  • A gathering of the human rights organizations in collaboration – for action – ACT NOW! (nathan@africanHRC.org)
  • Immediate and urgent safety for LGBTQI asylum seekers and refugees to include protective transportation away from Kakuma and safe shelter with sustainable programs for support
  • Urgent expedited and clear process
  • Implementation of rules and guidelines for the treating of LGBTQI refugees with dignity
  • Guaranteed resettlement for LGBTQI refugees
  • Innovative and new programming or special VISAS for LGBTQI refugees and asylum seekers
  • Processing depot in non-criminalizing environment with safe transport to such

    African Human Rights Coalition 2019 Kakuma Gates.

 

In conclusion let me point out in summary that this system is not working: We have LGBTI refugees in Nairobi who are unable to sustain themselves and unsafe. They are being told by Kenyan Government to go to Kakuma. We have RAS refusing to register refugees. We have the US Embassy refusing resettlement. We have HIAS ending stipends. When refugees agree or land at Kakuma they are attacked and told by Police they are not welcome in Kenya.  When they land back at UNHCR reception center gates, they are stuck, receiving no immediate attention while fed by struggling overseas activists who receive no salary to do this work. All the while the refugees are terrified, lost, threatening suicide, traumatized, injured and this goes on and on and on….. from one year to the next!

Notably the counter argument to the one that says ‘no refugee should receive special treatment from another’ – should be met with – ‘no human should have their sexuality or gender identity criminalized to the point where they cannot live a life free of oppression and with opportunities for authenticity and basic happiness!

BY MELANIE NATHAN
Commissionermnathan@gmail.com
Advocacy: African Human Rights Coalition
Speaker: Melnathan
Mediation: Private Courts
Follow me on Twitter – @MelanieNathan1
Instagram: @commissionermelnathan

ONE YEAR OF ARTICLES DEC 2018 – DEC 2019 Since the Award:

LGBT Refugee Peaceful Protest Turns Violent at UNHCR Compound in Kenya

Posted on December 11, 2018 by Melanie Nathan

Kenya is a hostile host to LGBTI refugees:– Thirty LGBTI Refugees in Kakuma Camp, Kenya, mostly Ugandans participating in an approved peaceful demonstration, tried to deliver a document to UNHCR, but after being refused entry into the compound were viciously attacked by police.  I have reached out to UNHCR for comment and will update accordingly. The conditions … More LGBT Refugee Peaceful Protest Turns Violent at UNHCR Compound in Kenya

UNHCR Calls out the Violent Kenyan Police Attack on LGBT Refugees

Posted on December 13, 2018by Melanie Nathan

African HRC and other advocates have been requesting UNHCR plan for the safe protection and humane living conditions for LGBTQ refugees in Kakuma Refugee Camp for several years, with only slight ad hoc and ultimately ineffective results. The harsh conditions and insecurities led to a protest this week and an attack by Kenyan police on … More UNHCR Calls out the Violent Kenyan Police Attack on LGBT Refugees

UNHCR Transfers LGBTI Refugees in Kenya to Unsanitary Crowded Conditions

Posted on December 24, 2018by Melanie Nathan

On 11th December thirty LGBTQ refugees were attacked and beaten by Kenyan police while protesting discrimination and the harsh unsafe conditions at Kakuma refugee camp.  We reported that attack in the words of the refugees at: https://oblogdee.blog/2018/12/11/lgbt-refugee-peaceful-protest-turns-violent-at-unhcr-compound-in-kenya/ . Some days later UNHCR issued a statement condemning the attack, noting the following in their statement: UNHCR condemns … More UNHCR Transfers LGBTI Refugees in Kenya to Unsanitary Crowded Conditions

UNHCR sending Ugandan LGBT Refugees into Homophobic Kenyan Society not an Option

Posted on January 1, 2019by Melanie Nathan

Asking gays and lesbians to lay low while Kenyan Government turns a blind eye to their homosexuality – is NOT a solution!  America needs to wake up to the need to open the pipeline for LGBT refugees from Africa and criminalizing countries.. When the Kakuma LGBTQI refugees protested harsh conditions and the failed security at the … More UNHCR sending Ugandan LGBT Refugees into Homophobic Kenyan Society not an Option

Protected: Calling on Kenyan Judicial System to release brutalized Ugandan LGBTI Refugee

Posted on February 20, 2019by Melanie Nathan

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

Transgender in Kakuma: We are dying help us!

Posted on March 31, 2018by Melanie Nathan

“We in a miserable situation dying, having nothing to eat and no where to sleep. We are dying help us dear madam.” I am Melanie Nathan and I direct The African Human Rights Coalition. This is what I have to report on this transgender day of visibility: I have been in direct contact with each of … More Transgender in Kakuma: We are dying help us!

MASK 07: LGBTI Refugee: I lost my Soul in Kakuma Camp Kenya

Posted on June 16, 2019by Melanie Nathan

7 MASKS 1 STORY – This is MASK 07 out of 7 MASK stories which will be told each day this week: If you care you will share! If you have been following the series and already read this intro, you can skip to the header MASK 07, below: For the past ten years I have … More MASK 07: LGBTI Refugee: I lost my Soul in Kakuma Camp Kenya

LGBTI Refugees Arrested and Sent Back to Dreaded Kakuma Camp

Posted on June 20, 2019by Melanie Nathan

Just this week I received the NLGJA Award for excellence in blogging. In December 2018 I had written about an attack on LGBTQI refugees while peacefully protesting the horrendous Kakuma Camp conditions and insecurities. Since the time of writing that article, many problems persisted and has brought LGBTI refugees back full circle to the dreaded … More LGBTI Refugees Arrested and Sent Back to Dreaded Kakuma Camp

Death in UNHCR Kakuma Camp and Conditions Impacting LGBTI Refugees

Posted on September 17, 2018by Melanie Nathan

By Melanie Nathan, This week one death and others hospitalized! We are posting pictures of the funeral of Isaac Byaruhanga who died this week in Kakuma camp, Kenya, after contracting Typhoid.  Mr. Byaruhanga, a Rwandan national, was a friend to many other refugees in the camp and we are informed that his loss will be sorely grieved. … More Death in UNHCR Kakuma Camp and Conditions Impacting LGBTI Refugees

Transgender Refugees Raided in Shelter Instead of Protected by Hostile Kenyan Police

Posted on October 18, 2019by Melanie Nathan

Two days ago a supposed safe house sheltering transgender refugees near Nairobi Kenya (actual place purposely not mentioned for security reasons) was raided by the Kenyan police after complaints by local residents (host community) asserting that it was ‘inhabited by transgender people who were apparently in danger of corrupting the morals  of the neighborhood’s husbands … More Transgender Refugees Raided in Shelter Instead of Protected by Hostile Kenyan Police

The Poetic Pain of Hell Part 1: By an LGBTQI Refugee

Posted on November 5, 2019by Melanie Nathan

So much pain reflected in the words of one LGBTQI refugee – and its speaks to the thousands who now seeking protection… Constantly escaping and escaping hate only to face hell Just this weekend I was honored to give a speech at the event hosted by Jill and Michael at Jillie’s Wine Bar and Shop … More The Poetic Pain of Hell Part 1: By an LGBTQI Refugee

Poetry from Hell Part 2: The Pain of Neglected LGBTI Kakuma Refugees

Posted on November 15, 2019by Melanie Nathan

The words of a refugee suffering and bearing witness …. As I sit at my desk, with the Trump Impeachment hearings audible in the background, and Ambassador Yovanovitch, former U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine, provides her poignant and moving testimony, I reflect on how the incompetent, crooked, corrupt, and maliciously xenophobic American who should NOT … More Poetry from Hell Part 2: The Pain of Neglected LGBTI Kakuma Refugees

BBC Video Depicting Brutality Against LGBTI Refugees by Hostile Host Kenya

Posted on November 20, 2019by Melanie Nathan

CALLS FOR URGENT RESETTLEMENT OF ALL LGBTQI REFUGEES: Since 2014, I have been writing about the refugee situation in Kenya, here on OblogdeeOblogda and at AfricanHRC.org’s news site. I have written about and advocated for LGBTQI refugees and asylum seekers, with a focus on UNHCR resettlement and the general conditions for LGBTQI refugees at the … More BBC Video Depicting Brutality Against LGBTI Refugees by Hostile Host Kenya

Poetry From Hell Part 3: Dear homophobia, Who chooses death?

Posted on November 21, 2019by Melanie Nathan

In this series of Poetry from Hell, I usually post as soon as I receive KA’s e-mail. KA is an LGBTI refugee in Kenya. As can be seen from Part 1 and Part 2, I couch these posts in the context of my own activity in the moment of posting. This serves as reminder to … More Poetry From Hell Part 3: Dear homophobia, Who chooses death?

Poetry From Hell Part 4: Kakuma Pain Zombies and Craving

Posted on November 28, 2019by Melanie Nathan

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States of America. I decided I could not celebrate. Notwithstanding sitting in privilege – no thanks to THANKS helmed by a food mounded table. Not while my LGBTQI family is starving, unsheltered, violently pelted with words intended to shame, beaten, robbed, suffering cruel uncertainty. Again I couch my sadness … More Poetry From Hell Part 4: Kakuma Pain Zombies and Craving

For LGBTI People Kakuma Camp is a Desperate Nightmare

Posted on November 28, 2018by Melanie Nathan

There are millions of migrants and refugees around the world. Displacement of human beings is at an all time high.The most marginalized among all refugees are LGBTI refugees seeking safety and a resettlement process in countries which continue the persecution they had escaped from. LGBTI people are fleeing homophobic violence and the criminalization of their … More For LGBTI People Kakuma Camp is a Desperate Nightmare

Poetry from Hell Part 5: Attacks on LGBTI Refugees in Kenya – I AM NOT FINE

Posted on December 6, 2019by Melanie Nathan

I am sitting here at the end of my week, in my comfort. My home is warm. I have food in my belly and I am safe. This is not the case for our lGBTQI brothers and sisters at Kakuma Camp in Kenya, a country proving to be hostile host to gays, lesbians and transgender … More Poetry from Hell Part 5: Attacks on LGBTI Refugees in Kenya – I AM NOT FINE

Injured Ugandan Refugee Evacuated from Kakuma Exposes Threat by RAS Officer

Posted on December 17, 2018by Melanie Nathan

For the past several years I have been communicating and working directly with LGBTI refugees Kenya- both in Nairobi and Kakuma Camp. I have advocated for the community as a whole and on an ad hoc basis for individuals, balancing the refugee reports of insecurity and failed protection against working with UNHCR staff to find … More Injured Ugandan Refugee Evacuated from Kakuma Exposes Threat by RAS Officer

Kakuma Crisis Gay Arrests Proves Kenya Hostile Host for LGBTI Refugees

Posted on December 1, 2019by Melanie Nathan

In The Words of LGBTQI Refugees The words and pictures of LGBTI refugees stranded outside UNHCR Camp Kakuma in Kenya speak for themselves. We are seeking updates from UNHCR and RAS (Refugee Affairs Secretariat of Kenya). ARRIVAL… November 03 One is that all new LGBTI refugees who report to the UNHCR-KENYA are given movement passes … More Kakuma Crisis Gay Arrests Proves Kenya Hostile Host for LGBTI Refugees

LGBT Refugee Peaceful Protest Turns Violent at UNHCR Compound in Kenya

Posted on December 11, 2018by Melanie Nathan

Kenya is a hostile host to LGBTI refugees:– Thirty LGBTI Refugees in Kakuma Camp, Kenya, mostly Ugandans participating in an approved peaceful demonstration, tried to deliver a document to UNHCR, but after being refused entry into the compound were viciously attacked by police.  I have reached out to UNHCR for comment and will update accordingly. The conditions … More LGBT Refugee Peaceful Protest Turns Violent at UNHCR Compound in Kenya

BY MELANIE NATHAN
Commissionermnathan@gmail.com
Advocacy: African Human Rights Coalition
Speaker: Melnathan
Mediation: Private Courts
Follow me on Twitter – @MelanieNathan1
Instagram: @commissionermelnathan

6 thoughts on “Kenya proves it can no longer Host LGBTI Refugees due to Escalating Violence

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